A Value Excercise

Hi all,
It dawned on me recently how much I’ve been rushing ahead in my oil painting and unsurprisingly being unhappy with the results. So, I decided to do some basic monochromatic value exercises following along with Harold Speed’s oil book. This is the first. I would have liked one more session to develop the lights but for the purposes of the exercise I think its far enough.

Some quick notes on my goals for the study:

  1. To go slower in the first block in and get a better 3-value abstraction of the subject. I ended up fiddling around quite a bit before I even felt the background/foreground/and shadow were in the right relationship which was eye-opening on how much more I need to practice.
  2. To be more mindful of edges. This goal was tougher because Speed emphasizes how important this is but doesn’t go into much detail on how to do it well. I don’t think I made much progress on this other than just making sure nothing was overly sharp after each session.

I’m planning to do more so any thoughts much appreciated!


Without a point-specific rubric for analysis I would think this to be a stunning success. It is a wonderful representation of the subject and carries a strong sense of volume in space. I see no signs of struggle with any material handling and your edges seem to be (even in spite of Mr. Speed’s vagueness in this regard) communicating the subject wonderfully.

Have you considered expanding the exercise in the future to include a greater range of edge variation? You may get more practice out of such an exercise if you push a subject/subjects into a scenario with a more shallow depth of field. You might also want to start thinking about edge “function” while you work. Most resources talk about edges in terms of rate (hard, soft) but seldom in terms of function. Give this article a look-see as I think it might help:


What’s up, Jake! Already saw this on Instagram, but great work!